It's so important for kids to get regular, comprehensive medical care. The health services they receive during their formative years determine many of their long-term physical and mental health outcomes, and spills over into the happiness and success of almost every part of their life! Every child should have equal access to health and happiness. But in the United States, medical care comes at a shockingly high cost.
The good news is that there is a federal program that helps to offset costs of vital healthcare services for low income people and their families. Medicaid covers over 30 million children -- that's roughly 40% of all children in the U.S. But more often than not, parents of impoverished families work long, grueling hours, sometimes at multiple jobs, just to make ends meet. They may not have resources that make it possible to even get their kids to the doctor, like time, transportation, or childcare for other children.
That's why we're asking that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expand its funding and services into schools so that eligible children can receive checkups, screenings, vaccinations, and other services when they cannot get to the doctor!
Medicaid actually already covers some healthcare provided in schools. For example, kids with disabilities need certain services in order to facilitate their learning. Medicaid covers those services for eligible children. There are already some schools that provide screenings, like dental and vision, for kids covered by Medicaid. Schools can even go so far as to help parents enroll their children in the program and find them providers. Schools and Medicaid are already inextricably linked, so it would be no far jump for schools -- if they received proper funding -- to take the extra step of having services and providers on site!
Between 2008 and 2016, visits to pediatricians fell by 14%. Experts say that part of the reason for this is because the system simply isn't "affordable, accessible and available." Medicaid is, in theory, taking care of the affordable part. But affordability does a family no good if they can't get to a doctor. Barriers like time, distance of travel to the nearest clinic or doctor's office, lack of transportation or unclear or incomplete information on healthcare their kids need can be the difference between a child getting the care they need and not.
But children are required by law to go to school, and there are systems in place to get them there if parents can't, like buses or community-driven carpools. If kids are already in school, and there is already a foundation for Medicaid funded services in those schools, the next step seems clear -- offer more comprehensive wellness and vaccination programs for eligible kids right in their own places of learning!
Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the glaring lack of infrastructure in the United States for things like mass testing and vaccinations, school-based services are a beacon of hope. Now that the coronavirus vaccine has been approved for kids as young as 12, and it is free of charge to everyone -- not even just Medicaid eligible individuals -- it would make a lot of sense for school to offer the vaccine in schools to children whose parents can't wait in line or get them to a secondary vaccination site! It's even the official position of National Association of School Nurses (NASN) that school-located vaccinations should become a part of the national plan to continue to fight COVID-19!If CMS expanded its programs into schools for things like checkups, screenings, and vaccinations, a ton of kids who are missing out on vital healthcare would suddenly find themselves cared for and supported, setting them up for happier childhoods and healthier lives. Sign the petition if you want to see expanded Medicaid services in schools!